Ron DeSantis Shouldn’t Run Against Trump

He might beat him. But he might not.

Will Leitch

--

The general consensus, in the wake of former President Donald Trump announcing Tuesday night that he would be running for the office again in 2024, was: Yawn. News organizations fell all over themselves showing how much “tougher” they’d be on him this time, cable stations (including Fox News) cut away in the middle of his speech and even the New York Post actively mocked him. After the Republicans’ disappointing performance in the midterms last week, thanks largely to Trump-loyal candidates that most voters dismissed as “crazy” or “stupid” or “crazy and stupid,” the party has made a clear signal that they’d like to move past Trump, and toward Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had a terrific night on Tuesday and might have turned the once-purple state of Florida beet red. It led to widespread speculation that DeSantis, with the party behind him, will end up being the Republican nominee in 2024, and it makes sense: DeSantis looks strong, Trump looks weak, and the midterms made it crystal clear that if Republicans continue to stick with Trump, they will lose … again.

But I’ll confess: If I’m Ron DeSantis, I consider that a Republicans Problem, not a Ron DeSantis Problem. For all the things that Ron DeSantis is — and it’s possible one of them is “an asshole” —he is not stupid. He is ambitious, clearly, ambitious enough to run for President. But I’m not sure the best play is to run right now. If I’m DeSantis, even with all the momentum he has, I sit this one out and run in 2028.

It’s not that difficult to game out why.

  1. Ron DeSantis is young. Well, young, relatively speaking: He’s only 44 years old, which means if he waits until 2056 to run, he will still be younger than Donald Trump will be on Election Day 2024. But he doesn’t have to wait nearly that long. If he waits until 2028, he’ll only be 48 years old. You can only serve eight years as governor in Florida, which means he’ll finish his term in 2026, just in time to start campaigning for a Republican nomination that, with Trump out of the way by then, may well be his for the taking. He can just sit back, raise money, go on Fox News and look all the more like the same sane, effective alternative to Trump that he looks like right now.

--

--

Will Leitch

Author of six books, including “How Lucky” and "The Time Has Come." NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin. https://williamfleitch.substack.com